ACC: Obi Egekeze

Around the ACC: Parker leads the way in Clemson scrimmage

August, 12, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Here's your daily dose of practice reports from Tuesday, as reported by each school's sports information office:


Kavell Conner and Brandon May each had eight tackles to key the defense in Clemson's first of three scrimmages of the preseason on Tuesday morning.

Four quarterbacks worked in the scrimmage that was 87 plays in length before the team went into a short-yardage situation drill. Kyle Parker completed 8 of 18 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown, a 39-yard scoring pass to tight end Durell Barry. Willy Korn was 4-for-9 for 41 yards, while Mike Wade was 4-of-7 for 49 yards. Freshman Taj Boyd, who worked with the third offense against the third defense, was sharp and completed 7-of-10 passes for 70 yards.

Two redshirt freshmen were the top receivers on the day. Brandon Ford had five catches for 60 yards and Jaron Brown added three for 48 yards. The tight ends were prominent during the scrimmage catching a combined eight passes. Michael Palmer had four catches for 33 yards.

C.J. Spiller was the top rusher with 10 carries for 60 yards and he also added a 7-yard pass reception. Jamie Harper had three rushes for 18 yards, while Rendrick Taylor added four for 17.

The defense played well, allowing just one touchdown all day, the 39-yard scoring pass from Parker to Barry. Conner had a tackle for loss to go with his eight tackles. Jarvis Jenkins was the top tackler up front with five stops, including a tackle for loss. Ricky Sapp had two sacks to pace the defensive ends. There were two interceptions by the defense, one by Xavier Brewer and one by Carlton Lewis.

"We did some things well, but we still have a long way to go," said coach Dabo Swinney. "The defense is definitely ahead of the offense at this point and you see that at this point in preseason. But we had way too many penalties and mistakes on offense.

Clemson will be back on the practice fields for two practices on Wednesday.


The Terps continued practice without pads, spending much of the session working on timing, technique and learning the playbook.

For the second straight day, the team practiced in high heat and humidity as temperatures soared into the mid 90s. The weather may have played a role in Tuesday's workout.

"Today wasn't as good as Day 1," said coach Ralph Friedgen. "We didn't catch it as well as I like us to. But we still got a lot done. We had a lot of reps. We got a lot of young kids plenty of work. We're running two teams so I'm like a traffic cop out there."

In order to get more work for a roster which has 58 of its 85 scholarship with three or four years of eligibility left, Friedgen has split the practice into two groups, with the first and third teams squaring off against each other, and second and fourth teams working on an adjacent field.

"The good thing about this team, there's competition," said Friedgen. "Everybody has to compete. There's very few jobs that are set other than say [Chris] Turner's. But I'm looking for Jamarr Robinson to come on as well. But I'm not disappointed in the play of two young quarterbacks. I'm kind of amazed from what we have in that they're able to get out of the huddle. They're not finished products by any stretch, but they've picked things up well."


Day 4 was highlighted by several big runs from freshman running back Lamar Miller, as well as a strong showing by the tight ends in 7-on-7 action.

The Hurricanes donned shells for the second straight day. After a slow start to practice, the team picked up its pace as practice wore on.

"As a group, we started off slow today; but we finished up fast," coach Randy Shannon said. "We can't come out and start off slow and then try to pick it up at the end. That is part of practice. We have to get focused tomorrow and stay focused on the big picture."

Temperatures remained consistent with the first three days of practice, with hot, humid conditions on the Greentree Practice Fields.

The team will return to practice Wednesday morning wearing full pads for the first time in camp.

• Freshman defensive linemen Olivier Vernon and Luther Robinson each recorded a sack in 11-on-11 action.
• Sophomore quarterback Jacory Harris hooked up with sophomore Travis Benjamin and freshman Kendal Thompkins for deep balls in 11-on-11 play.
• Freshman Lamar Miller had two big runs on the morning, one that went for a 60-plus-yard touchdown.
• Jordan Futch forced and recovered a fumble in full-team action.
• Tight ends stood out in 7-on-7 play, with seniors Jimmy Graham and Richard Gordon and freshman Billy Sanders all recording a catch.
Taylor Cook found Thearon Collier for a long touchdown in 11-on-11.


Wake Forest practiced for two hours Tuesday night at the Doc Martin Football Practice Complex. The fourth practice of the preseason marked the Demon Deacons' final practice in shells. The squad will wear full pads for the first time when it hits the practice field on Wednesday afternoon at 3 p.m.

"It was a little scary tonight, a lot of contact, lot of guys running into each other," said coach Jim Grobe. "We're trying to keep the guys high and on their feet but we had too many guys on the ground tonight. The good news is that they were getting after each other in a good way. We'll work harder at doing a better job of being physical but at the same time taking care of each other. We had a lot of energy tonight."

Grobe noted that the younger, less-experienced defense rose to the occasion on Tuesday night.

"I thought the defense did some better things today," said Grobe. "The past couple of practices we popped some big plays on offense and the defense kind of kept those in check today. They're moving around better. Some of our young kids, they don't know where to line up or what to do but they're flying around and playing hard so it was fun. It was a fun practice to watch. Usually at the end of finals and summer school the guys start dragging but we didn't today. It will be fun tomorrow to get out and have class behind us and not have to study anything but football for the next couple of weeks."

Ranking the ACC units: Special teams

July, 23, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Special teams are critical, especially in Blacksburg, and it's one of the Hokies' few weaknesses this year. They're in need of a kicker for the third time in three seasons, but Virginia Tech is hardly the only team in the ACC with big holes to fill. Here's how the ACC's special teams units ranked:

1. Miami -- Matt Bosher has already gotten plenty of ink in the blogosphere, but he's only one reason the Canes are No. 1 here. Bosher converted 18 of 20 field goal attempts and averaged 40.3 yards per punt. It's possible Jake Wieclaw could give Bosher some relief on kickoffs. If Travis Benjamin stays healthy, the return game will be in great shape. Benjamin led the team and the ACC in punt return yardage (173) and was ninth in the ACC in kick return yardage (477). Thearon Collier is also another return threat.

2. NC State -- The combination of kicker Josh Czajkowski and speedy return specialist T.J. Graham make the Wolfpack one of the best in the ACC. If they find a punter this summer, the unit will be complete. In his first season as starter, Czajkowski made 84.2 percent of his field goals (16 of 19), and he made 33 of 34 PATs to finish with 81 points and seventh place in the ACC in scoring. Graham's 1,028 yards in kickoff returns set the school record for a single season and already ranks fifth on the Wolfpack career list. They have to replace punter Bradley Pierson, though. Jeff Ruiz and Carl Ojala are both options.

3. Maryland -- The Terps have to replace kicker Obi Egekeze, but they've still got the ACC's top punter in Travis Baltz. He pinned Maryland opponents inside their own 20-yard line 24 times last year. Wide receiver Torrey Smith had a record-setting season as a kickoff returner, as he set the ACC single-season record for kickoff return yards with 1,089. There are high expectations for Nick Ferrara, who will be a true freshman, to replace Egekeze, but the job is wide open.

4. Virginia Tech -- Not only did the Hokies lose placekicker Dustin Keys, but they also lost punt returner Victor "Macho" Harris. The good news is that punter Brent Bowden returns, as does kickoff man Justin Myer, and snapper Collin Carroll. Matt Waldron and Myer enter summer camp as the favorites for the placekicking and kickoff duties, respectively. Incoming freshman Cody Journell might give them both a run for their money, though. Ryan Williams came out of spring practice as the starting punt returner, but Dyrell Roberts and Danny Coale are also options.

5. Clemson -- The Tigers have to replace veteran starters Mark Buchholz and Jimmy Manners at the two kicking positions. Spencer Benton, a redshirt freshman, is the frontrunner to take over the placekicking duties, but he'll get some competition from Richard Jackson. Dawson Zimmerman, who started two games and punted in three last year, should be the starting punter. Zimmerman averaged 38.5 yards for his 12 punts last season. The return game is in good hands -- C.J. Spiller's. Jacoby Ford is also experienced as a return man, and has a punt return and a kickoff return of more than 90 yards for scores.

6. Georgia Tech -- This is the area where coach Paul Johnson wants to see the most improvement, and with good reason: The Yellow Jackets ranked 11th in the ACC in net punting, 10th in kickoff returns and ninth in punt returns last year. Junior Scott Blair did a respectable job last year, as he was the first Yellow Jacket to handle both kicking and punting duties in 25 years. He'll get some competition, though, at one or both positions from sophomore Chandler Anderson, the holder last season. Anderson, who missed spring practice after a bout with appendicitis, punted six times in '08 for an average of 41.7.

7. Boston College -- Steve Aponavicius returns for his senior year. He went 14-for-21 on field goals last season. Newcomer Nate Freese, who kicked a school-record 52-yard field goal in Ohio, will challenge Aponavicius. Ryan Quigley and Billy Flutie both return to their punting duties. Quigley serves as the main punter and averaged 39.6 yards per kick with nine pinned inside the 20-yard-line. Flutie was used in short situations and pinned opponents inside the 20 seven times. Unheralded veteran long-snapper Jack Geiser also returns.

8. Duke -- The Blue Devils return placekicker Nick Maggio and punter Kevin Jones. Jones punted 71 times last fall and 27 of those kicks pinned Duke's opponents inside their own 20-yard line, the most by any punter. He finished second in the ACC in punting, with 40.8 yards per kick as a sophomore. Maggio made 11 of 14 field goal attempts.

9. North Carolina -- This might be the Tar Heels' biggest concern, as they have to replace punter Terrence Brown, and placekicker Jay Wooten decided to transfer. Connor Barth was UNC's primary field goal kicker in 2008 and Wooten was used as the kickoff man. Reid Phillips is a walk-on who is now in the mix, and walk-on Grant Shallock, who handled the punting duties this spring, is another option. The staff is eager for the arrival of prized recruit C.J. Feagles. Another concern is the return game, which survived without Brandon Tate last year with the help of walk-on Trase Jones. He finished the season with five returns for 36 yards.

10. Florida State -- The Noles took a huge hit here with the graduation of Lou Groza Award winner Graham Gano. The good news? FSU returns its long-snapper, Zack Aronson, and holder, Shawn Powell. James Esco and Nathan O'Jibway handled the kicking duties this spring, but neither have attempted a field goal in a game during their careers. There are high hopes for freshman Dustin Hopkins. Powell, who started the first seven games of 2008 as punter, will replace Gano there.

11. Wake Forest -- Veteran Sam Swank only started seven games last year before being injured, and that allowed Shane Popham to get his feet wet. Popham said he's much more confident heading into this season and gained valuable experience last year. He could handle both duties a
gain like he did last year. Popham made 7 of 12 field goal attempts and averaged 39.2 yards on 54 punts, pinning opponents inside the 20 on 19 occasions.

12. Virginia -- After three season as head coach at Kansas State, Ron Prince returns to Charlottesville to coach special teams, and it won't be an easy gig. Senior Yannick Reyering's injury-marred career is over, so sophomore Chris Hinkebein, who handled the kickoff duties for five games while Reyering was slowed with an injury, is expected to contend for some of the placekicking responsibilities. Robert Randolph shared some time with Reyering last year and made 3 of 4 attempts. Junior Danny Aiken is a proven long-snapper, and sophomore Jimmy Howell was one of five true freshmen to see time last year. He averaged 39.0 yards on 64 punts.

Maryland's Bankins looking to build special teams tradition

June, 3, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Maryland special teams/tight ends coach Charles Bankins has a group of players he has deemed "the silent warriors." They're the players who might not start on offense or defense, but will be his core players on the special teams unit.

"I get extra meetings with those guys and make sure they know what they're doing," Bankins said. "They'll set the tone for the rest of the guys on special teams."

Bankins, in his first season with the Terps, has high expectations for his silent warriors -- after all, he just won a national championship at Richmond, so he's grown accustomed to winning.

Since the days of Nick Novak, the Terps have laid the groundwork for a program with strong special teams units. The unit has gone through some turnover, though, as Bankins is the third assistant there in as many seasons. As a native of Southern Maryland, though, he's aware of the high expectations for the unit set by former assistant Ray Rychleski, who spent seven seasons there before taking a job with South Carolina last year.

"It's our job to carry the torch and keep those expectations going," Bankins said. "I just want to make sure we have a clear understanding of the scheme I'm bringing to the program. I'm a fundamentalist, so we're going to focus on the fundamentals. My philosophy has always been, if you're good at the fundamentals, you can plug them into any scheme. If you try a scheme without fundamentals, it's not going to work."

One player expected to help do that is wide receiver Torrey Smith, who could be one of the more exciting players to watch in the ACC this fall if he continues to grow as a receiver. Smith had 210 all-purpose yards in a spring scrimmage, and a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. He set an ACC single-season record last year with 1,089 kickoff return yards, including a 99-yard return for a touchdown against Nevada in the Humanitarian Bowl.

"One thing I told Torrey is I want to make him the all-purpose leader in the country," Bankins said. "He's done a great job of returning the ball, and obviously ended the season on a good note. If he can do his part on the receiving end, I can help him out in the return game."

The biggest question mark for Bankins is who will replace veteran kicker Obi Egekeze.

"The job is wide open," Bankins said. "Nobody has run away with anything. The guys are going to be competing all summer for the kicking job."

And Bankins hopes to have them all competing for a championship this fall.

Kickin' it in the ACC

June, 3, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Considering how evenly matched the ACC is expected to be yet again, there should be a significant amount of close games -- as in, the kind of games won with a swift kick and good field position, not just a strong arm. The problem is, even the best teams in the league are in search of dependable kickers and punters. Florida State took a huge hit with the graduation of Lou Groza Award winner Graham Gano. Miami and NC State seem to have the edge with Matt Bosher and Josh Czajkowski, respectively.

Here's a rundown of who's in good shape and who's not when it comes to the kicking game:


Boston College: Finally, a plus for the Eagles -- kind of. BC returns both placekicker Steve Aponavicius, who has 36 career starts, and Ryan Quigley, who has 14 career starts. The problem has been consistency. Aponavicius, who received an extra year of eligibility, needs to improve upon last year's 14 of 21 field goals made. Challenging him for the job will be newcomer Nate Freese, from Ohio. Quigley serves as the main punter and had a strong freshman season, averaging 39.6 yards a kick and had nine inside the 20-yard line and five over 50 yards. Billy Flutie was used in short situations and pinned opponents inside the 20 seven times.

Duke: The Blue Devils return placekicker Nick Maggio and punter Kevin Jones. Jones punted 71 times last fall and 27 of those kicks pinned Duke's opponents inside their own 20-yard line, the most of any punter. He finished second in the ACC in punting, with 40.8 yards per kick as a sophomore. Maggio made 11 of 14 field goal attempts.

Miami: Matt Bosher is a legitimate candidate to win the Lou Groza Award this fall, and he doubles as kicker and punter. Bosher made 90 percent of his field goal attempts last year, his first season of double duty (18 of 20 attempts). As a punter, he averaged 40.3 yards per kick with 19 punts inside the 20-yard line.

NC State: In his first season as starter, Czajkowski made 84.2 percent of his field goals (16 of 19), and he made 33 of 34 PATs to finish with 81 points and seventh place in the ACC in scoring. They have to replace punter Bradley Pierson, though. Jeff Ruiz and Carl Ojala are both options.



OUT: The Tigers lose placekicker Mark Buchholz, who was 15 of 21 in field goals last year, and punter Jimmy Maners, who ranked fourth in the ACC in putting average (40.5). Buchholz made 15 of 21 field goals last year and was perfect on 40 extra points in leading the team in scoring with 85 points. He established a Clemson record for consecutive extra points with a perfect 88-88 performance over his two years on the team.

IN: Spencer Benton, a redshirt freshman, looks to take over the placekicking duties, but will be pressured by Richard Jackson. Dawson Zimmerman, who started two games and punted in three last year, should be the starting punter. Zimmerman had a 38.5 average for his 12 punts last year.

Florida State

OUT: Graham Gano. This will be a huge loss, as Gano led the nation in field goals (2.18 per game), and finished fourth in scoring, despite missing two games. He doubled as both kicker and punter.

IN: James Esco and Nathan O'Jibway handled the kicking duties this past spring. Neither has attempted a field goal in a game during their careers. Dustin Hopkins, a highly touted recruit, should add to the competition there this summer. Shawn Powell, who started the first seven games last year as the team's punter, will return to that job.

Georgia Tech

IN: Scott Blair is back as both the kicker and punter, and he did a solid job last year, but special teams has been an area of concern and point of emphasis for Paul Johnson since he arrived in Atlanta. Blair will get some competition. Chandler Anderson, the holder last year, had appendicitis and missed all of spring. Kevin Crosby will also challenge at punter and Chris Tanner will compete at kicker, along with Andy Elakman.


OUT: Placekicker Obi Egekeze, who had 26 career starts and made 15 of 24 field goals last fall. The Terps can take solace in the fact punter Travis Baltz returns. He pinned Maryland opponents inside their own 20-yard line 24 times last year.

IN: There are high expectations for Nick Ferrara, who will be a true freshman. But while he wasn't on campus yet, Mike Barbour and Nick Wallace were battling it out. The job is wide open.

North Carolina

OUT: Punter Terrence Brown, who had 25 career starts, has to be replaced. Walk-on Grant Schallock handled the punting duties this spring. The staff is eager for the arrival of prized recruit C.J. Feagles.

IN: Sophomore Casey Barth returns with 10 games of placekicking experience, but it's not a given that he's the guy. Walk-on Reid Phillips is also in the mix, as is Jay Wooten, who was used as the kickoff man last year.


OUT: Yannick Reyering's injury-marred career is over. The former soccer star had a strong leg, but made just 6 of 11 field goal attempts.

IN: Robert Randolph shared some time with Reyering last year and made 3 of 4 attempts. Chris Hinkebein, who handled the kickoff duties for five games while Reyering was slowed with an injury, is also expected to contend for some of the placekicking responsibilities this season. The good news is they return Jimmy Howell at punter, but he only has 12 starts. He was one of five true freshmen to see time last year and averaged 39.0 yards on 64 punts.

Virginia Tech

OUT: Dustin Keys. For the third time in three seasons, Frank Beamer needs to find a new kicker. Keys finished eighth nationally in field goals per game, and made 23 of 29.

IN: Matt Waldron appears to be the leading candidate to replace Keys, but Justin Myer, Tim Pisano and Chris Hazley are also in the mix. They'll compete with incoming recruit Cody Journell for the job in August. The good news is punter Brent Bowden is back, and he averaged 40.4 yards per kick and had 24 kicks inside the 20-yard line last year. The coaches would like him to be a little more consistent, but he is entering his third season as a starter.

Wake Forest

OUT: Sam Swank and his 45 career starts. Swank only started seven games last year before being injured, and that allowed Shane Popham to get his feet wet.

IN: Popham. He could handle double duties again like he did last year, and should be more confident after being thrown into the fire in 2008. Popham made 7 of 12 field goal attempts and averaged 39.2 yards on 54 punts, pinning opponents inside the 20 on 19 occasions.

Maryland spring wrap-up

May, 7, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Maryland Terrapins
2008 overall record: 8-5

2008 conference record: 4-4

Returning starters: Offense: 6, defense: 4, punter/kicker: 1

Top returners: QB Chris Turner, RB, Da'Rel Scott, OL Phil Costa, WR Torrey Smith, LB Alex Wujciak, CB Anthony Wiseman, FS Terrell Skinner, P Travis Baltz

Key losses: C Edwin Williams, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, CB Kevin Barnes, DT Jeremy Navarre, LG Jaimie Thomas, TE Dan Gronkowski, LB Dave Philistin, DE Mack Frost, LB Moise Fokou, PK Obi Egekeze

2007 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Da'Rel Scott* (1,133 yards)
Passing: Chris Turner* (2,516 yards)
Darrius Heyward-Bey (609 yards)
Alex Wujciak* (133)
Moise Fokou (5)
Jamari McCollough* (4)

2009 Schedule
Sept. 5 at California
Sept. 12 James Madison
Sept. 19 Middle Tennessee
Sept. 26 Rutgers
Oct. 3 Clemson
Oct. 10 at Wake Forest
Oct. 17 Virginia
Oct. 24 at Duke
Nov. 7 at NC State
Nov. 14 Virginia Tech
Nov. 21 at Florida State
Nov. 28 Boston College

Spring answers

1. Leader on the line. Phil Costa has been tasked with taking over at center for Edwin Williams, and although he has never played in a game at center, it was the position of least concern on the offensive line this spring. Costa proved capable of being the leader of an otherwise inexperienced group (see below).

2. New additions at linebacker. One of the concerns coming into the spring was the depth at linebacker, and the staff was pleased with the addition freshmen Darin Drakeford and Avery Murray. With Alex Wujciak and Ben Pooler out with injuries, others proved dependable, including former tight end Drew Gloster and Demetrius Hartsfield.

3. What can Don Brown do for you? Brown's new defensive scheme earned rave reviews from the players and coaching staff this spring. The corners stepped up to the challenge of the press coverage and picked off Chris Turner six times in two scrimmages.

Fall questions

1. The rest of the offensive line. The Terps lost three starters, and will have four players in new positions. Bruce Campbell is the only player returning to his old spot at left tackle. The two starting guard spots are up for grabs, as Lamar Young and Andrew Gonnella flip-flopped all spring on the left side. Justin Lewis played better toward the end at right guard.

2. Separation at receiver. There are nine who can play, and every one of them seemed to have his moment at a different time this spring. Still, nobody grabbed hold of the "go-to" guy, previously held by Darrius Heyward-Bey. The staff is still looking for consistency from this young but talented group.

3. Replacing the placekicker. The Terps still don't know who will fill the placekicking shoes of Obi Egekeze. Walk-ons Mike Barbour and Nick Wallace will continue to compete this summer, and highly touted incoming kicker Nick Ferrara will have a chance to win the job.

Miami's Bosher positioned for award-winning year

March, 11, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Lou Groza award winner Graham Gano from FSU won't be around this season, nor will Wake Forest's Sam Swank, but Miami place-kicker Matt Bosher will, and the folks at the U are expected to push him as a candidate for the 2009 Lou Groza award. He was a semifinalist last season, and it was his first year as the Canes' full-time punter and place-kicker.

Bosher, a junior, leads all returning place-kickers in the nation in field goal percentage. He made 18 of 20 field goals last year (90 percent), to beat Arkansas State's Josh Arauco, who made 17 of 19 for an .895 percentage.

Whether or not Bosher will be the best kicker in the country remains to be seen, but his chances of being the best in the ACC are pretty good. He is the only returning kicker who made field goals of 50 yards or longer last year. (Bosher's longest kick was 52 yards.) His early competition looks to be NC State's Josh Czajkowski, who made 16 of 19 last year and ranked No. 37 in the NCAA with 1.23 field goals per game.

Virginia Tech has to replace Dustin Keys, Maryland lost Obi Egekeze, and Clemson loses Mark Buchholz.

Making a point in the ACC

March, 2, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

If you don't score, it's hard to win, which is why it's worth taking a look at how much scoring returns for each team this spring. Expectations are high for Florida State in the Atlantic Division, but the Seminoles took the biggest hit, as they lost the ACC's top two overall scorers in kicker Graham Gano and running back Antone Smith. FSU had the best scoring offense in the ACC last year with an average of 33.4 points per game. Note the past tense.

These percentages don't mean teams won't find playmakers to compensate for the scoring production they lost, but it's an indicator of how much work needs to be done this spring and summer.

Here's a look the percentage of points coming back in the ACC this spring, with a quick note on each:

Georgia Tech -- 93.7 percent
Jonathan Dwyer was second in the ACC last year with 13 touchdowns and an average of 6.2 points.

Miami -- 91.5 percent
• Eighteen different players scored last year for Miami, and 13 of them return. Matt Bosher made 18 of 20 fields goals last year and accounted for 7.2 points per game. Running back Graig Cooper scored a team-high six touchdowns.

Boston College -- 73.1 percent
• The Eagles return three of their top four scorers from last year's Atlantic Division championship team, including Steve Aponavicius, who made 14 of 21 field goals, and running back Montel Harris, who scored six touchdowns.

NC State -- 72.5 percent
• The Pack will have to replace Andre Brown, who scored nine of their 37 touchdowns. Receiver Owen Spencer could help, as will the return of tailback Toney Baker.

North Carolina -- 65.6 percent
• Former receiver Hakeem Nicks accounted for 13 touchdowns last year, including 12 touchdown receptions. Kicker Casey Barth and tailback Ryan Houston, who combined for 111 points, return.

Wake Forest -- 57.9 percent
• The Demon Deacons will sorely miss kicker Sam Swank, but they learned to live without him when Swank was injured last year. Running back Brandon Pendergrass returns, and there will be plenty of competition this spring at running back and wide receiver.

Virginia Tech -- 57.6 percent
Darren Evans scored 11 rushing touchdowns last year, and the Hokies have plenty of playmakers, including quarterback Tyrod Taylor, returning. Four defenders scored last year, and only one -- Stephan Virgil -- returns.

Duke -- 52.7 percent
• They'll miss Eron Riley and his eight touchdowns, and running back Clifford Harris and his six touchdowns, but the return of previously injured running back Re'quan Boyette should help.

Virginia -- 50.3 percent
• Kicker Yannick Reyering, tailback Cedric Peerman and Kevin Ogletree, the team's top three scorers from '08, are gone. It should help, though, to have Jameel Sewell back.

Maryland -- 47.3 percent
• The Terps will have to replace kicker Obi Egekeze, but quarterback Chris Turner and running back Da'Rel Scott return, along with running backs Morgan Green and Davin Meggett.

Clemson -- 40.4 percent
C.J. Spiller scored 11 touchdowns last year (seven rush, three pass, one return), and averaged 5.5 points per game).

Florida State -- 29 percent
• Carlton Jones or Jermaine Thomas will have to compensate for the loss of Smith, but both are talented enough to do that, and they'll be behind one of the best offensive lines in the league.

Maryland recruiting needs

January, 14, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

The Terps rebounded from their disappointing finish in the regular season with an impressive win over Nevada in the Roady's Humanitarian Bowl, and a bowl win never hurts recruiting.

The Terps' main focus was to stock up on linebackers, especially with the departure of Rick Costa, Moise Fokou and Dave Philistin. Maryland will have to replace three seniors on its offensive line, and that was the staff's second priority. The Terps are still shopping in that department, but have a good start with three commitments in Pete DeSouza (Hyattsville, Md.), Bennett Fulper (Gretna, Va.) and Ryan Schlieper (Wexford, Pa.).

With backup quarterback Josh Portis transferring and Jordan Steffy graduating, the Terps also had to fill a void there. Chris Turner is a veteran with a winning record, but his backup, Jamarr Robinson, is a redshirt freshman who hasn't thrown a pass yet. Maryland is expecting two commitments at the position in C.J. Brown (Cranberry, Pa.), and Danny O'Brien (Kernersville, N.C.).

The Terps are always looking for defensive linemen and defensive backs. Kevin Barnes is the biggest name in the defensive backfield who will have to be replaced. The defensive line will also lose a lot of depth in Jeremy Navarre, Mack Frost, Dean Muhtadi, and Olugbemi Otulaja. De'Onte Arnett, a highly regarded defensive end from Forestville, Md., is an early entry who might contribute immediately.

Maryland will need a kicker to replace Obi Egekeze, and they've got a commitment from Nick Ferrara of St. Anthony's in New York.

The most glaring departure on offense was star receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, who decided to leave early for the NFL draft, but the Terps have several talented, young receivers who emerged this season. That position will be more of a focus for the class of 2010.

ACC helmet stickers: Week 8

October, 19, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

FSU coach Bobby Bowden might want to give the officials a helmet sticker for their performance in the second half of his win over NC State on Thursday night after he gave 'em a talkin' to at the break, but I'll go ahead and stick with the guys who made the plays.

Here's a look at the best of the ACC in Week 8:

Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder -- He threw the go-ahead 17-yard touchdown pass and completed 23 of 35 pass attempts for 254 yards and a touchdown. No interceptions. He had a career-high in almost every category, and was 6 of 8 for 71 yards on the game-winning, 70-yard touchdown drive, including a 23-yard pass on third-and-17.

Maryland -- The offense totaled 470 yards, the defense handed Wake Forest its first shutout in 123 games, and kicker Obi Egekeze made four field goals. I'd say that makes for a complete game. It was Maryland's fifth straight win over a top 25 team. Much of the credit goes to the combo of quarterback Chris Turner and receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey.

Georgia Tech's secondary -- Safety Dominique Reese had one forced fumble and returned an interception 34 yards for a touchdown, safety Morgan Burnett had two interceptions, and cornerback Rashaad Reid added another in the Yellow Jackets' 21-17 win over Clemson.

Virginia linebacker Jon Copper -- He had a career-high 16 tackles, including 10 solo in the Cavaliers' 16-13 overtime win. The Cavaliers held the Tar Heels, who were averaging 31.8 points without a touchdown after the first quarter.

Boston College defense -- The Eagles beat Virginia Tech despite turning the ball over five times and not scoring after halftime. Virginia Tech was held to a season-low 240 yards of total offense.

Maryland made its first field goal -- of the season

September, 20, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Small victory in College Park. Kicker Obi Egekeze finally got out of his 0-for-5 slump with a 23-yard field goal. Nothing like a chip shot to get the confidence going. Terps are up 10-0.

ACC in the midmorning: Game-day edition

September, 20, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

It's a good day to be in Tallahassee, but if you're not, there's plenty going on elsewhere. Check it out:

Here are a few things to watch tonight here in Tally. What it all boils down to, like FSU O-line coach Rick Trickett said, is experience vs. inexperience.

Maryland RB questionable for Eastern Michigan

September, 14, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Maryland running back Da'Rel Scott, the team's leading rusher with 135.7 yards per game, is questionable for Saturday's game against Eastern Michigan with a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder, coach Ralph Friedgen said on his Sunday teleconference.

Scott will be limited to non-contact drills this week.

Scott rushed 19 times for 87 yards and two touchdowns against Cal, despite playing less than three quarters because of a shoulder injury.

Friedgen also said he might make a change to the kicking game, as Obi Egekeze has now missed five straight field goals, including a 27-yard attempt this past weekend.

"I'm still thinking that over," Friedgen said. "Before I make any decisions like that I probably want to talk to our staff and to Obi. We've gotta get better in that area, one way or the other."

If he did name a new placekicker, Friedgen said it would likely be either Nick Wallace, a redshirt sophomore transfer from Indiana (Pa.) or walk-on Mike Barbour.

Week 3 ACC predictions

September, 11, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

OK, so my scores haven't always been dead-on, but I'm 17-4 with the picks heading into this week. (Games I missed were BC/Georgia Tech, Maryland/Middle Tennessee, Virginia Tech/ECU and Clemson/Alabama).

Here's what I've got for Week 3:

UNC 28, Rutgers 10 -- Both teams want to prove their lackluster performances in the season openers weren't their true identities, but Fresno State exposed Rutgers' flaws and a young offensive line. After just one game, the Scarlet Knights trail the Big East in several statistical categories, including scoring offense.

Connecticut 24, Virginia 7 -- The Cavaliers will be taking an inexperienced quarterback on the road against the defending Big East champs. Virginia barely got away with its 17-16 win last season, and that was with a veteran team. UConn returns 19 of 24 starters from its 2007 roster.

Clemson 24, NC State 20 -- The matchup between the Wolfpack's much improved defensive line against the Tigers' inexperienced offensive line will keep this game close, but Clemson has the home field advantage and the veteran quarterback.

Duke 38, Navy 35 -- Duke quarterback Thaddeus Lewis accounted for five touchdowns against the Midshipmen last year with four passing and one rushing. If that's going to happen again, star receiver Eron Riley needs to be on the field and 100 percent. The Midshipmen have the nation's top rushing offense.

California 41, Maryland 21 -- Considering Maryland kicker Obi Egekeze hasn't made a field goal yet, I'm not factoring one into their score. The Terps should show improvement but will have a tough time matching Cal's speed.

Georgia Tech 21, Virginia Tech 14 -- The Hokies are holding opponents to 96 rushing yards per game. Considering the Yellow Jackets are averaging 255.5 on the ground, that's going to be tough to keep up. Virginia Tech is still trying to find its identity and Paul Johnson is catching them at the right time.

Florida State 52, Chattanooga 3 -- The only thing that would prevent this from being another walloping on an FCS school would be the Seminoles looking ahead to the Wake Forest game. This should be another easy tune-up and a chance to get almost two dozen rookies more snaps.

OFF: Boston College, Miami and Wake Forest

What we learned in the ACC: Week 2

September, 7, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

The ACC didn't do too much to hurt itself this week (7-2 against nonconference opponents), but then again, it's not like Saturday was filled with highlight-worthy performances, either (See: Virginia, Maryland, NC State -- they booed Daniel Evans for crying out loud and third-stringer Harrison Beck had to beat William & Mary).

Here's a look at what Week 2 revealed:

1. Miami is close but not quite: Randy Shannon has a talented, young team that's headed in the right direction, as evidenced by the first half against Florida. Youth and inexperience were factors in this game, but it was closer than the score indicated. If it weren't for two errors on special teams, Florida might not have scored in the first half. Miami's 16-play drive that took 8:42 off the clock and ended in a field goal is evidence this team can move the ball on anyone. This could be a foreshadowing of a surprise team in the Coastal Division, but the Canes will obviously have to earn more than 1.6 yards per carry and do a better job of protecting Marve. Otherwise, look out for No. 2.

2. Once modest expectations are growing for Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets got their first ACC road win and helped Wake Forest and Clemson in the process by knocking off Atlantic Division foe Boston College. With its 2-0 start, Georgia Tech is in the lead and should only get better. It will have to, because the Eagles won't always be able to get away with three fumbles. These were two similar teams, both in transitions on offense and depending on defense. The difference was Georgia Tech's front four, and the grit and determination the offense showed. As long as those factors don't disappear, the coaching should take care of the rest.

3. Florida State has two quarterbacks: And neither of them are named Drew Weatherford. The veteran threw the ball just twice while the future of the program stole the show. Christian Ponder and D'Vontrey Richardson accounted for six total touchdowns and no interceptions. Offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher made the right call with Ponder, who played nearly flawless in his debut. But Richardson will make it difficult to keep him off the field. His 68 yards rushing on four carries added another dimension to the game. (The quarterbacks probably got a little help, though, from their offensive line, which didn't allow a sack all night). Yes, it was against Western Carolina, but how many ACC teams have we seen handle a weak nonconference opponent the way they're supposed to -- with ease?

4. Virginia Tech might just have one quarterback: Sean Glennon said "a red flag went off" in his mind as he watched Tyrod Taylor play drive after drive from the sideline in the second half against Furman. We already knew Taylor could help this team out with his mobility, but weren't quite sure how well it would sit with Glennon or how they two would be used. Turns out they used Taylor more. He got 39 snaps to Glennon's 22. Better late than never, right? Unfortunately for Glennon, it might be too late. Coach Frank Beamer said he's not ready to talk about how he might use both of them against Georgia Tech, but the fact Glennon was used less against a Division I-AA opponent should give him every reason to be "a little concerned."

5. Maryland's not a sleeper: It's asleep: The Terps were the ACC's lone embarrassment on Saturday, as they fell to Middle Tennessee State. (Hey, at least UVA won). There were missed assignments, the quarterbacks couldn't hit open receivers, and the defense was on the field for too long because it couldn't stop the 5-yard short patterns. (Maryland's time of possession was 20:11, its lowest since 2002 against Notre Dame). Maryland has something to fix in every phase of the game. Kicker Obi Egekeze is now 0-for-4 on his field goals this season and has missed five straight dating back to the 2007 Emerald Bowl. The Terps finally have a 100-yard rusher and a backup and only carried the ball 19 times.



Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12